Harpoon's 100 Barrel Series has been churning out small-batch beers since 2003. Every few months, a different Harpoon brewer is tasked with coming up with a unique, limited-release beer. For the 43d installment, Harpoon came to me directly and asked me exactly what kind of beer I'd be in the mood for.
OK so that last part is made up, but as an IPA-lover, I'm always looking for new takes on the style. There are many different IPAs out there, but not all of them are worth your time. Bitter for the sake of bitter doesn't always equal good beer. I'm not a beer snob, but I'm something of an IPA snob. I order IPAs I like and rarely compromise.
After trying a couple of white IPAs at a festival at the Ommegang Brewery a few weeks ago, I knew the style suited me. When Harpoon released theirs -- on IPA Day, fittingly enough -- I knew I'd be reviewing the beer.
This is Harpoon brewer Ken Hermann's creation. Originally brewed for a competition in Providence, it was chosen as the next 100 Barrel Series beer after faring well on first go. It's an American IPA meshed with a Belgian Witbier; the flavors are complex and refreshing.
“I hadn’t tried many examples of this style before developing the recipe, so I just tried to brew something that I personally would want in a white IPA,” says Hermann. “I wanted to brew a uniquely American beer that would maintain the signature qualities of two distinct styles while forging a direction of its own.”
It smells like an IPA, with a great floral nose. One whiff produces grapefruit and pineapples. This is my favorite beer smell, and it's reproduced very well here.
It tastes like an IPA, too, which should calm the fears of you hop-heads out there. Simcoe, Cascade, and Citra hops combine for a citrusy, slightly bitter flavor. You get the Belgian Witbier profile in the mouthfeel, and also in the beer's spiciness. You're not tasting spices on the level of an Allagash White, but you wouldn't want to here. Ground coriander adds to the flavor of the beer but doesn't steal the show.
Another good thing: There's none of the dank, heavy flavors found in some IPAs. Rather than wreck your palate, this beer is a palate lifter. I drank the beer before a dinner out and wasn't worried about being too full for the rest of my evening. At 6.2 percent ABV and 45 IBUs, this beer doesn't overpower. You still get plenty of delicious, bitter hops, though, making this one a keeper.
Harpoon's White IPA is limited and should sell out within the next month or two. That's when you'd want to drink it, anyway. It's being sold in 22-ounce bottles and will have a limited availability on draft.